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Charges upgraded in Ely deer crashing case

Defendant now faces three misdemeanor charges instead of one.

Contributed / Minnesota DNR

ELY — Charges have been upgraded in the case of the Ely college student who intentionally rammed his pickup truck into three deer on an Ely road last month, paralyzing all three which had to be euthanized.

The News Tribune first reported the case March 27 when Casey Meadows, 20, faced a single misdemeanor charge of chasing or injuring wildlife by use of a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor with a $300 penalty, and was also issued state restitution orders of $500 for each deer, for a total penalty of $1,800.

The single misdemeanor citation would have allowed Meadows to plead guilty and pay his fines without appearing in court.

But due to public outcry that the charges and penalties weren’t strong enough to fit the crime, Minnesota Conservation Officer Anthony Bermel has now rescinded the original charge filed in State District Court in St. Louis County and recharged Meadows with three separate counts of the same crime. They are still misdemeanors, but by stacking the crimes, Meadows now faces a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for each count. If found guilty, he must still pay the $1,500 restitution for the value of the deer.

"The county attorney's office really came up with this (change) and we totally agreed,'' Bermel said. "It's the same crime, the same statute, but by going to three charges it ups the fine to $1,000 each and, theoretically, adds the potential for 90 days in jail."


Bermel noted that if Meadows had paid the fine before the new charges were filed the case would have been over. No court date has been set.

The incident occurred March 21 “in broad daylight right on Highway 21 by the golf course,” Bermel said. The injured deer were euthanized by an Ely police officer. Within 24 hours, Bermel and others began receiving tips on who the driver may have been. Bermel, joined by a St. Louis County Sheriff's deputy and an Ely police officer, interviewed the driver, Meadows, at his residence, and he admitted he hit the deer on purpose.

“There was never any good explanation of why. It doesn’t make much sense to me,” Bermel told the News Tribune. “It’s a 30 mph zone … He had to speed up to hit them all, single file.”

Bermel said the driver had a heavy-duty bumper guard on his truck, which sustained no damage in the incident.

Meadows had moved to Ely to attend Vermilion Community College which specializes in wildlife and other outdoors majors.

Court records show Meadows paid citations for having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle in 2021 and for not having a current registration sticker on his snowmobile earlier this year.

Bermel said the deer incident caused a stir on social media in the Ely area, with some people suggesting officers should issue more severe charges, such as a felony. But Bermel said Minnesota statutes are limited in this case, noting there is no provision for this crime for the state to take away Meadow’s hunting or fishing privileges.

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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